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Heroin Addiction and Treatment

1-800-315-2391  |  April 10th

Heroin Addiction and Treatment

Heroin is an illegal drug that's made from morphine and abused by many drug users around the world. There are people in all age groups in need of treatment for heroin dependency because of the drugs powerful addictive potential. Most of the time heroin is found in a white or brown powder form but can also be found as black tar heroin which is a sticky black substance. Today heroin is more potent than before and sometimes contains toxic additives that make the already serious consequences of heroin use worse.

There are several ways heroin is abused by the user, some people inject it while others either snort or smoke it. When a heroin user injects the drug with a needle, heroin goes straight into the user's bloodstream. Sniffing or snorting heroin is done through the user's nose. Heroin is then absorbed through the user's nasal tissue which is the fleshy parts inside their nose. When a heroin user smokes the illegal drug the vapors go directly into their lungs. No matter how heroin is abused it's extremely addictive and leads to very serious health issues.

When an individual uses heroin it turns into morphine when it gets into their brain. Heroin then affects important areas of the brain that are responsible for pain and pleasure. Heroin also affects areas that are essential for life, breathing and blood pressure. This is extremely dangerous for individuals that overdose on heroin because it dangerously affects their breathing which becomes suppressed and can lead to death.

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There are very serious and dangers consequences associated with heroin use. If a person is a chronic user of heroin they become physically dependent on the drug. Chronic heroin users experience major withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. It really depends on the person when it comes to withdrawal symptoms. The users health, duration of heroin use and how heavily heroin was used all determines the withdrawal symptoms a heroin user may experience. Chronic Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms can include:

  1. Severe cravings for heroin
  2. Agitation and restlessness
  3. Pain in their bones and muscles
  4. Sleeplessness or insomnia
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Vomiting and nausea
  7. Cold chills including goose bumps
  8. Kicking type movements

If a heroin user is in bad health withdrawal symptoms are much more dangerous, in some cases this has led to death. Chronic heroin users should never attempt to detox on their own without medical supervision. Many heroin users think detoxing from heroin means recovery but this is far from the truth. Detoxification which includes the withdrawal symptoms just rids the body of the drug but isn't treatment or recovery. Many areas need to be addressed in order to fully recover from heroin addiction and without the proper treatment program for each individual user, relapse is most always inevitable.

Long term or chronic heroin users as well as other drugs of abuse are in need of intense therapeutic treatment as well as medications to help the heroin user prevent relapse. With the proper medication and individualized treatment program heroin users can look forward to a long term successful recovery from heroin addiction. Some long term chronic users are in need of residential inpatient heroin treatment in order to maintain abstinence and work toward their recovery. Less intense heroin users do well with intense outpatient treatment that includes medication therapy like methadone, buprenorphine and suboxone.

Methadone is a man-made opiate medication that's used in methadone maintenance for heroin addiction. Methadone can be addictive so a patient needs to be under medical supervision when taking this drug for heroin maintenance treatment. Some heroin users seek methadone on the streets attempting to treat themselves but this doesn't work. Treatment programs that offer methadone maintenance for heroin addiction make sure the dose prescribed is right for that person. Methadone that's obtained on the streets may also contain other drugs or chemicals that you're unaware of. Along with methadone maintenance therapy the individual working toward recovery also needs counseling and behavioral therapy during treatment. Some heroin users also require medical or psychological help while working toward recovery from heroin addiction.

Buprenorphine is another drug that's been approved for treating heroin addiction. Buprenorphine is less addictive than methadone and the risk of overdose is much lower. Buprenorphine can also be prescribed in a doctor's office which makes it much easier for heroin users to seek treatment. Some patients don't respond to buprenorphine the way others do and they may need to use methadone treatment instead.

Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone for treating heroin addiction. Naloxone alone is generally used for treating opioid overdose cases. Suboxone should only be used when prescribed by a doctor or authorized drug treatment center. Using drugs like suboxone bought off the streets is equally as dangerous as any other street drug.

Heroin is still readily available on the streets and more dangerous than ever before because of the potency level today. Street heroin quite often contains very toxic additives which can clog up a person's blood vessels that lead to vital organs. Using heroin is associated with many dangerous and harmful health effects and consequences which can include:

  1. Addiction
  2. Shallow breathing
  3. Convulsions
  4. Coma
  5. HIV
  6. AIDS
  7. Hepatitis
  8. Damage to lungs, liver, kidneys, brain or other vital organs
  9. Overdose
  10. DEATH

References & Resources

Comments & Replies:

  • Crystal Castaneda @ February 18th, 2012

    I'm desperately in need of any kind of detox from heroin because I am almost 6 months pregnant, I cannot afford to lose my family it would make me go beyond crazy not being able to come home with my new born baby, I need any kind of help PLZ IM BEGGING ANYBODY , PLZ

  • Tina @ June 7th, 2012

    I was wondering if you can help me I have a brother who is 33 yrs. old been in and out of jail but is on drugs like heroin and pills he needs detox and help to get off it and stay off it he really has no place to stay I have try to deal with it but I can't help him and I can't take it he's a good hearted guy but just can't seem to leave drugs alone no place to live so he ended up back around people that does this and he was trying really hard not to be around them but can't find a job and nowhere to stay so he ended up back there he was trying to find some pills Suboxone. He really wants to quit but hasn't been able to on his own do u know anywhere he can get help he has no money no insurance I don't know how to help him please let me know thanks I live in Southgate he been staying in Monroe I just need to know what or who I can call or what can be done with no insurance

  • Lori @ October 19th, 2012

    I'm in desperate need of help! My son is shy of 2 weeks of the age of 18. He has been an avid smoker of marijuana since age 12. He has now moved on to heroine! He is begging for help but refuses to go into a hospital. He says that hospitals will put him on meth which is addictive. He wants me to take him to a clinic where they will put him on some type of pill which is not addictive. Please I'm running out of time and he desperately needs help. He is killing himself. He was 170 lbs. 3 months ago. Now he looks like a skeleton! Stopped eating and living!

  • Dj's Mom @ April 13th, 2013

    I understand where everyone is coming from. Don't stop trying to help. My family had insurance and DJ knew how the system worked. When 5 days were up he was told to go to therapy get rehab help somewhere else. DJ was in hospital, ER, detox and we couldn't find help we had no money to put in at these rich and famous rehab places. DJ fought to stop and the addiction took him. The hardest on this is that I wish he was in prison not dead. Maybe you should call the police and have him locked up to protect themselves at least they will be detoxing. You can't stop trying to help them. Have them committed, do anything you can. I wish I knew these things because my son died at 22 yrs. young and I found my son in his bed and he was dead. My baby boy was gone and HEROIN and addiction took him. DJ was a wrestler, football player, rugby player; he sang and danced in his chorus. He had a lot of friends and family but a lot of them turned their backs on him and he felt alone. He wasn't alone they didn't know of his problem. At his funeral people didn't realize that DJ felt this way. DJ knew is mom and dad loved him, his sister loved him. Don't give up the fight for your loved one who is addicted!!! We are now is court for the dealer and one of DJ's friends who got heroin for both of them. They are being charged with First Degree Reckless Homicide for the death of my son. Some people say "well he chooses to do heroin," but what they don't understand is he was addicted and he was trying to stop but the Heroin is ILLEGAL and we need to stop drug dealers and to get the drugs off the streets. DJ's mom hopes you start fighting for your love ones and for you who are addicted to drugs seek out help there is free help out there. Volunteer to commit yourself, get help you can do it. I will pray for you, I promise!! DJ's mom

  • Hbfhjkddi @ December 15th, 2013


    I have a friend he is also my colleague and I know him for two years now, since I moved to Philly. He was a normal person we used to hang out go to his house or to a restaurant, one day I found out he was doing pills I tried to stop him I tried to talk to him in many ways he did not listen.

    one day he didn't show up at work we called his house his girlfriend everybody was worried and shocked then after two days one of his friend told us that he was arrested for DUI and possession on narcotics(pills)then everybody talked to him he had a couple of court dates he paid fines, got over all that.

    One day I was shocked when he took me in the back room at our job and showed me little plastic bags with white powder in it, I knew it was some kind of drugs, but he didn't tell me what it was, and once again I tried to stop him but he said it's not for him and he gave me the impression that its good and I should try it too. He is 5 years younger than me I am 26.

    I don't know how to help him he is a student he works hard he is a good person I want him to stop doing drugs.


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